[Talking to his disciples about coming conflicts and disasters, Jesus continued:] "Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come."
— Matthew 24:9-14 NLT
If you read the story of the early church in the book of Acts, this passage is a very apt description of the difficulties they faced as Christians taking the Good News to others in a hostile world. Christians were beaten, arrested, martyred, left for dead, and despised. But not deterred! But not stopped! But not thwarted!
Jesus' living and last word in Matthew's gospel was that he had authority over all things.* On his authority, the disciples were to take the message of his saving power to every culture. They were not to just be faithful, but they were to also teach new disciples to be obedient and faithful. No matter what they faced, no matter what happened, they were to remember that Jesus was with them.
In the present days when Christians are being persecuted simply for being Christians and so many in the Christian movement are sidetracked by sin, worldliness, and fear of offending someone else's sensibilities, Jesus' words are a sobering reminder that Satan will do anything he can to shut God's people up so the world will remain in darkness. But our heritage is a heritage of Good News, for all peoples, against all odds, and overcoming all difficulties!